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September 18, 2017 | Tom Ballard

UT grad Tony Shipley discusses angel investing from a 17-year perspective

Future865By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Tony Shipley is not a newbie in the angel capital game.

At Monday’s “Future865” forum, he told the attendees that he and five others launched Queen City Angels (QCA) in Cincinnati 17 years ago. He’s the Founder and Chair of the organization, but he’s also well-connected in the national sector, serving as Vice Chair of the Angel Capital Association.

“Angel investing is about farmers versus hunters,” Shipley said, using the comparison to note that angel investors are making a long-term commitment whereas most venture investment is on a shorter timeframe.

“Angel investing is primarily a local contact sport,” he added. To illustrate that point, Shipley says that funds like QCA are focused not only on keeping young talent in their community, but also about retaining business executives who sell their businesses or retire for another reason active in the area as investors and mentors.

QCA reports that it has made 196 investments in 80 companies since its founding. Those investments total $54 million. Today, QCA is one of about 10 organized angel groups in Ohio that collectively have about 600 members, 200 portfolio companies, and a combined $100 million plus in investments.

“The Ohio Third Frontier Program restarted entrepreneurship and high growth job development in Ohio,” Shipley said. Since its launch, the program has invested $175 million – one-half state dollars, the balance from the private sector – in 330 companies that have collectively raised $1.6 billion in follow-on equity, garnered another $1.6 billion in product sales/revenue, and created more than 3,000 jobs.

Nationally, Shipley said angels invest about $25 billion a year in 71,000 different deals. That volume accounts for about 90 percent of the outside equity for start-ups. As most of our readers know, those investments generally range from $10,000 to $50,000 each.

Shipley said that QCA does not focus exclusively on Ohio. It has also made investments or is evaluating some in Indiana, Kentucky, Western Pennsylvania, and Tennessee,

Ironically, Shipley is a University of Tennessee graduate.

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